Iraq records eight deaths from Congo fever, says health ministry

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq’s health ministry said eight people had died from Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in Iraq as of Friday.

In a statement, the ministry said it had recorded 40 cases of the Congo fever across the country.

“More than half of them are in Dhi Qar,” it added.

Five of the deaths were also registered in Dhi Qar province, the ministry stated.

On Friday, the directorate of health in Kirkuk announced the death of a 47-year-old man who was also diagnosed with the severe disease.

Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Region’s health ministry is expected to hold a press conference on Saturday regarding a suspected case of the disease in Erbil.

The disease mainly strikes farm and slaughterhouse workers. The disease normally occurs through bites from infected ticks or from direct contact with infected blood and tissue from livestock. Human to human transmission, through exposure to contaminated blood, is more rare.

The disease has been endemic to Iraq since 1979, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). At times, small outbreaks have been reported, with the last outbreak happening in 2021 with 18 cases confirmed in Thi-qar and Ninawa Governorates.

There is no vaccine against the disease, which causes dizziness, high fever, muscle pain and vomiting. A body rash and bleeding from the bowels and gums, often accompanied by hepatitis and pulmonary failure, follow in severe cases.

According to the World Health organisation, CCHF can be treated but recovery is slow. If treatment is not provided in time, death can occur in the second week of illness.

The mortality rate can reach 30 percent from the disease, which was first identified in Crimea in 1944 and later appeared in Congo, according to Reuters.

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